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Strikeforce to Crown 135-Pound Women’s Champ Next Month; Contender Tournaments to Begin in April

(Takayo Hashi vs. Chisa Yonezawa @ GCM Valkyrie 2, 4/25/09)

After putting on the biggest women’s fight in history last year, Strikeforce is preparing to build women’s MMA even larger. According to a recent press release, Sarah Kaufman and Takayo Hashi will battle for the promotion’s first women’s 135-pound title at a Strikeforce Challengers event scheduled for February 26th at the Civic Auditorium in San Jose; tickets are on sale right now.

With a perfect record of 10-0 (eight via TKO), the hard-hitting Kaufman is one of the world’s best female fighters, and has been gaining recognition in Strikeforce thanks to the dominant decision victories she scored over Miesha Tate and Shayna Baszler in 2009. Takayo Hashi (12-1; 4 wins by submission, 8 by unanimous decision) has competed primarily in Japan, where she was one of the standouts of the SmackGirl promotion. Hashi most recently choked out Chisa Yonezawa at a GCM Valkyrie event last April, and avenged her only loss to Hitomi Akano in 2007. She’s known primarily as a grappler, while Kaufman is known primarily for beating the crap out of grapplers.

Due to blatant sexism, the 2/26 Strikeforce card will officially be headlined by a middleweight match between Trevor Prangley (22-5) and Karl Amoussou (11-2-1); the event will also feature another middleweight matchup pitting Luke Rockhold (6-1) against Paul Bradley (12-1), and a welterweight contest between San Jose native James Terry (7-1) and Tarec Saffiedine (7-2).

In order to develop worthy challengers in the 135- and 145-pound women’s divisions, Strikeforce will launch separate eight-woman tournaments, which will kick off at their Challengers event in April. These tournaments were originally supposed to happen late last year, but things piled up: "With the Fedor (Emelianenko) deal, the (Dan) Henderson deal, the EA deal, we just started getting bombarded with these large acquisitions and transactions,” said Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker. “The female tournaments kept getting pushed back, which is fine, because we wanted time to get them right.”

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Smitty- January 28, 2010 at 7:42 am
@ skeletor
I don't know what the hell right hand crazy was rambling about, but I've never been a fan of womens mma. I could handle female "super fights" every now and then, like Carano and Cyborg, but I can't watch the no names. I always picture them blowin me, or wondering what their cravass (mispelled on purpose) looks like.
right hand crazy- January 27, 2010 at 5:02 pm

i don't agree because i think there's a big difference you're missing. professional women's basketball didn't come around until the male leagues had already been going strong for close to 50 years. MMA is still incredibly young as a sport and hasn't reached mainstream status yet, so as far as most new fans will be concerned, female fights will be common place in the sport instead of something that's being thrust upon them after a lifetime of things being a certain way. women's basketball still hasn't really caught on because they just can't compete with the giant that is the NBA, which was already doing serious gangbusters long before the WNBA came about.

and if strikeforce does well with these fights it may become commonplace for what were once male-only leagues to also feature female bouts mixed in with the guys and they won't be stuck in some chick ghetto like the WNBA. personally, i think that's the way to go. for a lot of guys, it's hard for them to get into the idea of chicks playing sports and they probably wouldn't watch female sports of their own accord, but if they're exposed to it and see that these girls bang on each other just as ruthlessly as the guys do it'd be much easier to accept than trying to convince them to go out of their way to tune into the WUFC or something like that.
skeletor- January 27, 2010 at 3:28 pm
The problem with woman's MMA is the same problem with woman's basketball. Hundreds of mediocre players who only made the team because of the level of talent. Let SF deal with it, it will just be another rusty cog in the machine that will eventually break.
DazedNConfused- January 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm
Womens mma is quite entertaining. It tends to be a lot more fast paced, with some greasy knockouts/unbalanced matchups. I believe it needs to grow a bit more before heading to the ufc though. Unless they only put up some womens fights every couple events. Not enough talent to show girls every ufc. Without putting some good (male) fights to the undercard. I think it could definitely sell more PPV's with some semi sexy ladies on the cards.
mma samurai- January 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm
I think it's great that Strikeforce is pushing women's MMA. If there was ever a complaint I had with the UFC it would be their lack of faith in a women's division. As we've all seen the women can compete with the best of them (and probably beat the shit out of some of them too) and put on a show worthy of headlining an event. So kudos to you Strikeforce.

I also have to give them props for the contender tournement they have in the works as well. I always enjoyed watching the tournaments in Pride and in the long run it makes for an entertaining and pretty good way to determine the next contender. You can't really blame someone not getting their shot at the title due to politics with this format (unless someone feels that a fighter should have been in the tournament and wasn't) because if you win all your fights to get the shot then no one can say they didn't earn it. Same for the flip side of that, if you lost then hey you lost your shot, better luck next time.

It always pains me to have to admit it but I'm starting to come around more and more to Strikeforce as a quality MMA company. It would be easier if they ditched "freakshow" matches like Hershel Walker (or at least let him fight some fights on an undercard and prove he has what it takes before he gets a spot on the main card) and just stuck with quality fights, which for the most part they have. I'll keep my eye on them being that I'm all for the promoting of the sport in a positive way regardless of the venue or company so we'll see what Strikeforce, UFC, Bellator....etc have planned and in the works this year.
ProfessorMMA- January 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm